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Old Sydney Mines Post Office

2 Fraser Avenue, Sydney Mines, Nova Scotia, B1V, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1983/08/04

Period sketch Sydney Mines Post Office. Possibly ca 1904. Note single third floor step-gable window, reflecting original plans.; JW Sudbury artist, undated. Courtesy of Nova Scotia Heritage Property Program files.
Historic sketch Sydney Mines Post Office, ca 1904
Sydney Mines Post Office, Southeast view, 2004; Heritage Division, Nova Scotia Department of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, 2004
Sydney Mines Post Office from Southeast, 2004
Sydney Mines Post Office, 2004. Northeast entrance and tower.; Heritage Division, Nova Scotia Department of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, 2004
Sydney Mines Post Office from Northeast, 2004

Other Name(s)

n/a

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1904/01/01 to 1904/12/31

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2006/12/14

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

Built in 1904, the Old Sydney Mines Post Office is a three storey stone building constructed in the French Romanesque Revival Style. Originally built as a Post Office and Customs House, the building is situated in the middle of Sydney Mines and dominates the surrounding streetscape. The renovated building presently serves as the community's Town Hall. Both the building and its surrounding property are included in the heritage designation.

Heritage Value

Historical Value:

The Old Sydney Mines Post Office is valued as a reminder of a time of spectacular growth that occurred in the community following the building of the blast furnaces by the Nova Scotia Steel and Coal Company at the turn of the 20th century. It was this growth that prompted the Dominion Government, which as a means to encouraging national pride and consciousness was continuing a program of erecting public buildings in small urban centres, to select a prominent location in this community to build a Post Office and Customs House. The building originally served both as a post office and as a customs house, with an upstairs apartment for the caretaker. It served as a post office until 1968 when, after the building of a new post office, the building was acquired by the town. The Provincial Department of Health rented the first floor, and the Town's Department of Social Services and Leisure Services occupied the second floor until 1978. The building was then sold and used mainly as storage space, while a portion was used by the local historical society as a museum. In 1987, the town re-acquired the building and began a program of restoration and refurbishment as the community's centennial year project. This project culminated with the building's conversion into the community's new Town Hall, reflecting both its long term use as a public place, and its continued integration into the social fabric of this community.


Architectural Value:

The Old Sydney Mines Post Office is also valued as a rare Nova Scotian example of the French Romanesque Revival style, with elements such as crow-stepped gables, towers and battlements that are reminiscent of the Scottish Baronial style. Completed in stone and brick, with its heavy masculine features dominating the centre of town, the Old Sydney Mines Post Office conveys a sense of the country's power and wealth, just as the new Dominion Government had intended in 1904. The crow-stepped gable over one entrance gives an impression of wealth, while the massive crenelated porch tower over the other adds a fortress-like appearance. The building presents an asymmetrical facade of polychrome brick and stone with a steep mansard roof. A 1989 addition, which is incorporated into the rear of the building, is designed to closely match the original structure styling, while maintaining the integrity of the original form.

Source: Provincial Heritage Property files, no. 20, Heritage Division, 1747 Summer Street, Halifax, NS

Character-Defining Elements

General character-defining elements of the location and context of the Old Sydney Mines Post Office include:

- imposing air of authority and power via its fortress-like appearance;
- architectural domination of the surrounding streetscape.


Character-defining elements of the Old Sydney Mines Post Office relating to its French Romanesque Revival Style include:

- a main plan complicated by a number of wings, including a tower and the main entrance;
- cavernous entrance porches;
- asymmetrical facade;
- alternating use of brick, smooth stone and rough, rusticated stone;
- string course;
- four-sided Mansard roof;
- finialed crow-stepped gables;
- crow-stepped and plain gabled dormers;
- crow-stepped gabled extension on west wall;
- flat topped, octagonal tower and battlement;
- crenellated turret;
- windows first floor, southside, recessed with semi-circular heads and two over two pane arrangement, vousoirs, keystones and moulded lug sills;
- windows second floor less elaborate, one over one pane arrangement, plain lug sills, and plain lintels;
- roman arched windows and entrances;
- plinth course.

Recognition

Jurisdiction

Nova Scotia

Recognition Authority

Province of Nova Scotia

Recognition Statute

Heritage Property Act

Recognition Type

Provincially Registered Property

Recognition Date

1983/08/04

Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

n/a

Theme - Category and Type

Developing Economies
Communications and Transportation
Governing Canada
Government and Institutions
Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Architecture and Design

Function - Category and Type

Current

Government
Town or City Hall

Historic

Government
Customs Building
Government
Office or office building
Government
Post Office
Government
Residence

Architect / Designer

David Ewart

Builder

n/a

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Provincial Heritage Program property files, no. 20, 1747 Summer Street, Halifax, NS B3H 3A6

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier

00PNS0020

Status

Published

Related Places

n/a

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